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"The Pancake Batter Anomaly" is the eleventh episode of the first season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, March 31, 2008.


When Sheldon gets sick, Leonard, along with Howard and Raj, quickly escape from his grasp, leaving Penny to pick up the pieces.

Extended Plot[]


Sheldon sick and accusing Penny.


Homeless crazy guy at table 18.

Leonard is losing to Sheldon in a game of Tri Dimensional Chess. Penny has just returned from a trip home to Nebraska and stops by for her mail; she adds "It was the worst trip. Everyone got sick over the weekend." Hypochondriac Sheldon springs up, distances himself from Penny and starts spraying the living room, as he is afraid he may catch a cold. Leonard quickly dismisses this action as another one of Sheldon's overreactions.

Later that night, Sheldon asks Leonard to swab his throat to see what disease he thinks is infecting him. Leonard refuses and says he's going back to bed, but then Sheldon asks him to place a measuring cup in the bathroom so he can measure his urine output to make sure his kidneys are not shutting down. Leonard angrily claims that he mixes pancake batter in that cup, but Sheldon proves that it was always used to measure urine. Leonard sarcastically says he "[owes] the Betty Crocker company a letter of apology". By the next morning, Sheldon discovers he is indeed sick.

Leonard, realizing that Sheldon was telling the truth, quickly dresses up and dashes out of the apartment to avoid Sheldon and having to wait on him hand and foot. When Sheldon calls to find him, Leonard lies by telling Sheldon that he got called in (later texted) to work at the most unusual time (at half past six in the morning on a Sunday). As the dog barks in the background while Leonard is still in the lobby, Sheldon suspects him for strangely having a dog in the laboratory. Leonard makes up an excuse about dogs being trained in the lab to operate centrifuges before hanging up. He hastily calls Howard about the emergency: "code milky green", and has him call Raj to let him know that they all need to avoid Sheldon for a day. Howard tries to convince his mom to invite Leonard and Raj, but she refuses, claiming she just had the carped steamed. Changing plans, he tells that the "Planet of the Apes" movie marathon (showing all five movies, each lasting two hours) is screening. So, Leonard, Howard and Raj decide to watch there to lay low away from Sheldon for at least part of the day.

With no one to wait on him, Sheldon visits the Cheesecake Factory for soup. Even with his 187 IQ, Penny has to point out that Sheldon could have gotten soup delivered, rather than venture out. Regardless, Sheldon asks about split pea soup with hot dog slices and croutons like his mother used to make, to which Penny replies that they only have potato-lentil soup or chicken tortilla soup. Sheldon hesitantly says: "surprise me". As Penny goes to get his soup, he blows his nose into his napkin aloud and turns to a disgusted family sitting on the next table, shamelessly asking, "...would you call this moss green or forest green?"

At the screening, Leonard, Howard, and Raj, are wearing chimpanzee masks, only to find everyone in the cinema are also wearing the same, much to Howard's annoyance. Raj states that he wanted to wear an orangutan mask but they shouted him down. Just as they are about to take their seats, Leonard's mobile phone rings, which turns out to be Penny calling him. Answering her, he again lies, telling Penny he's at work, and wearing a radiation suit (to explain the mask distorting his voice as Penny becomes suspicious.) When Penny mentions Sheldon is at the Cheesecake Factory, Leonard instructs Penny to tell Sheldon to head back home. Inability to do so, Penny replies that Sheldon is afraid that he'll "pass out on the bus and someone will harvest his organs", and pleads to Leonard to come get him. Still worrying about Sheldon, Leonard accepts, only to pretend that a nuclear meltdown is imminent (with Howard and Raj imitating sirens) so he can hang up. Raj tries to comfort guilt-struck Leonard while trying to steal Howard's popcorn, only for Howard to decline him, yelling "Take your stinking paws off my popcorn, you damn, dirty ape!"

After Penny drops Sheldon off at his apartment while leaving work early, out of sympathy, she gets pulled into taking care of him as she tries to return home. Explaining his intolerance about sick days, Sheldon recounts that when he was a fifteen-year-old visiting professor in Germany, he suffered gastrointestinal issues after eating in the local sausage-based cuisine. His mom however flew back to Texas to help his dad with their house, as it was aluminum [i.e., a pre-fabricated or mobile home] and had slid off the cinder blocks again. He convinced the faculty residence's maid who didn't speak English that he was sick, but, without realizing her German question, he was given an enema (Sheldon misremembers his age from his illness). Penny decides to take care of him and Sheldon has to make her give sponge baths like his mom used to do. Annoyed Penny lays out ground rules: No sponge baths and no enemas, and Sheldon worriedly agrees (thinking she'd give her one again.)

Back at the cinema, just as the ten and a half hour marathon starts, Howard accidentally breaks Leonard's glasses after Leonard drops them on the floor, rendering him all but sightless. At Sheldon's apartment, Sheldon begs Penny to rub some Vicks VapoRub on his chest; he also asks her to sing Soft Kitty to him, a song his mother always sang to him when he was sick. Realizing about Sheldon's frequent and childish requests, Penny becomes irritated at Leonard for leaving her with Sheldon.

As Leonard doesn't want to watch the marathon blurred by his virtual blindness due to his broken glasses, and due to him not wanting LASIK eye surgery, the three go back to the apartment in an attempt to retrieve Leonard's spare glasses in his bedroom. Refusing to volunteer, Howard and Raj use a Bluetooth camera mounted on Leonard's head and a wireless headset in his ear to help blind Leonard navigate while sneaking into the apartment, as well as a detector to let them know if/when Sheldon appears with footsteps (but Leonard needs to start crawling on fours while carrying it in a paper bag using his mouth). After deploying the detector, which actually hasn't been turned on, making him disdainful that he didn't have to crawl while it was off, Leonard is caught by Penny (in which the detector had been activated instead by Sheldon), at which point she calls him a "Rat Bastard". Howard and Raj quickly abandon him. An angered Penny alerts Sheldon of Leonard's presence and leaves the apartment. Leonard, still blinded, makes a mad dash to escape, but runs into one of the apartment's pillars.

Finally, on the couch, Leonard sits with an ice bag on his forehead, next to a still-sick Sheldon. Sheldon asks Leonard to help him fetch a turkey baster, but Leonard implies he stood up at least twice, saying he can't stand without throwing up. However, Sheldon asks for a tupperware bowl under the sink, implying that Leonard could instead crawl again.




  • Title Reference: The title refers to the anomalous cross-contamination between Sheldon's urine cup and Leonard's pancake batter.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • This episode was watched by 8.68 million people with a rating of 3.1 (adults 18–49).
  • Episode transcript Transcript.


  • First episode to explore Sheldon and Penny’s relationship(at least on a deeper level)
  • Sheldon revealed that Leonard is a poor chess player in the previous episode (S1E10) and it is shown how he is not well suited for Tri Dimensional Chess in this episode. Penny can also beat Leonard at chess in "The Werewolf Transformation" (S5E18).
  • The pseudoscalar meson nonet [2] is clearly seen on the small refrigerator blackboard, which is what Eric Gablehauser was "doodling" in "The Luminous Fish Effect" (S1E4).
  • Code Milky Green is the emergency code for when Sheldon is sick, possibly because of the color of mucus build up.
  • "Möchtest Du eine Darmspülung?" translates into "Do you want an enema?". Though it should be noted that while technically not wrong, the medically correct German term would be "Einlauf", not "Darmspülung".
  • When Sheldon comes out looking for Leonard, he drops the duvet he is dragging to the floor before he enters the kitchen. In the next shot as he approaches the refrigerator, the duvet has crawled down the step on its own.
  • The song "Soft Kitty" is introduced. Penny learns it and sings it to sick Sheldon and many other times during the series.
  • Sheldon states he has an IQ of 187, and in "The Codpiece Topology" (S2E2), he says he has an IQ which can't be accurately measured by normal tests and he'd have to lose 60 IQ points to be classified as smart. If Sheldon's IQ is indeed 187, then Leonard's IQ would be 173, as Leonard said their combined IQ is 360 in "Pilot" (S1E1).
  • Sheldon claims that this time is only the second time in his life where he has been sick by himself. The first was when he was fifteen, at the Heidelberg Institute in Germany as a visiting professor (This very institute does not exist. What is meant here is the renowned "Heidelberg University" with its many diverse institutions). The sausage based cuisine causes "an intestinal blitzkrieg", and his mother had to return to Texas to help deal with their aluminium house slipping off its cinder blocks during tornado season. In Young Sheldon, they do not live in a mobile home. Season 6 Episode 22 of this series also retcons the details of Sheldon's stay in Germany. Therein, he is going to be studying abroad, which he corrected when Penny suggested that notion, and he is preparing by learning the German language, which he clearly did not understand vis-à-vis the enema fiasco.
  • Though Sheldon doesn't receive his first doctorate until he turns sixteen, he's a visiting professor at fifteen. This anomaly is not implausible, as exemplified by the case of real-life prodigy Alia Sabur. Also, there are famous physicists who obtained professorships or postdoctoral fellowships while holding non-doctoral degrees, such as Satyendra Nath Bose, Freeman Dyson and Lars Onsager.
  • Leonard advises Sheldon to "get some rest and drink plenty of fluids". With characteristic appreciation and charm, Sheldon responds, "What else would I drink? Gases? Solids? Ionized plasma?" These are the four states of matter.
    • Even under the stress of illness, Sheldon retained his rapier wit sufficiently to crack a "physics funny". It's "common knowledge" from Physics 101 class that gases and plasma are also fluids, just like liquids, and make refreshing "virgin" drinks.
    • Technically, the applicability of a fluid approach for a collection of free particles (gases) lies in comparing the mean free path () to the macroscopic length scale () of interest. For ionized gases, the subject goes by the name magnetohydrodynamics when the methods of continuum mechanics apply, and by plasma when they do not.
  • The domed building visible from Leonard and Sheldon's apartment 4A window is the Pasadena City Hall.
  • When Sheldon tries to test if he is sick, he is shown using lime Jell-O to make petri dishes because "SOMEONE polished off the apricot yogurt," implying that the culprit was Leonard. While Leonard is lactose intolerant, if his intolerance is mild or moderate, he could eat yogurt if it had live active cultures.
  • This is the first time that Penny calls Leonard a "Rat Bastard." The second time she does, it's in the Season 3 finale of "The Lunar Excitation" (S3E23).
  • In this episode, Sheldon said at the age of fifteen, he got sick in Germany, and his mother had to fly back to Texas to help his dad at that time. This creates a continuity error in the episodes "The Thanksgiving Decoupling" (S7E9) and "The Proton Transmogrification" (S7E22) because Sheldon mentions to Bernadette's father Mike and the ghostly form of Professor Proton, respectively, that his father died when he was only fourteen.
  • On the TV version of the episode, the cold open ends which Penny closing the door and Sheldon using a disinfectant spray, but on the Season 1 DVD, an extended scene shows Leonard looking at him and Sheldon (who has buried his nose and mouth in his t-shirt) says "What?!" nonchalantly.
  • Before the show began, presumably, Sheldon had an ear infection in 2006, which is mentioned by Howard when on the phone to Leonard, as "the Great Ear Infection of '06".
  • The oven has been replaced since the previous episode.
  • As of this episode there are six Planet of the Apes movies, but apparently the guys are so certain of the failed 2001 reboot not being included that they don't factor it in.
  • The part where Howard breaks Leonard’s glasses in the cinema by accidentally stepping on them, references:
    • The 1983 film A Christmas Story, where Ralphie breaks his glasses on Christmas Day.
    • The 1960 film Where the Boys Are, where someone steps on Basil’s glasses.
    • The Gilligan’s Island episode All About Eva, where Eva Grubb foils her plan to pose as Ginger by breaking her glasses.


(Howard is asleep in his bed, when the phone rings.)
Mrs Wolowitz: (she's shouting from downstairs off-screen) HOWARD, IT'S THE PHONE!
Howard: (he yells angrily, angry at the rude awakening by his mother) I KNOW IT'S THE PHONE, MA! I HEAR THE PHONE!
Howard: (frustrated) I DON'T KNOW! (picks the phone up from his bedside table)
Howard: (angrily) HOW CAN I ASK THEM WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU?! [Answers the phone quietly] Hello?
Leonard: (sitting on the stairs in the apartment lobby, hiding from Sheldon, and fastening his shoelaces) Hey Howard, it's Leonard. Code: Milky Green.
Howard: Dear Lord, not Milky Green.
Leonard: Affirmative, with fever.
Mrs. Wolowitz: WHO'S ON THE PHONE?!
Mrs. Wolowitz: WHY IS HE CALLING?!
Leonard: Howard, listen....
[Howard's phone beeps.]
Howard: Hang on, call waiting.
Leonard: Wait, NO, don't -
[Howard takes the call, unaware that it's Sheldon.]
Howard: Hello?
Sheldon: Howard, I'm sick!
(Howard doesn't know what to do until he decides to pretend to be his mother answering.)
Howard (as Mrs. Wolowitz, and sounding vaguely Australian): Uh, HOWARD'S SLEEPING, THIS IS HIS MOTHER! WHY ARE YOU CALLING AT THIS UNGODLY HOUR?!
Sheldon: I need soup!
Howard (still impersonating his mother): THEN CALL YOUR OWN MOTHER! (Ends the call and is put back on to Leonard; normal voice) It was Sheldon.
Leonard: I tried to stop you.
Howard: It’s my own fault, I forgot the protocol we put in place after the Great Ear Infection of ’06.
Leonard: You call Koothrappali, we need to find a place to lay low for the next eighteen to twenty four hours.
Howard: Stand by. (Goes over to his bedroom door and shouts) Ma, can my friends come over?
Howard: ... (Back on the phone) That's a negatory. But there's a Planet of The Apes marathon at the Newark today.
Leonard: (thinks) Five movies, two hours apiece. It’s a start.

[Raj steals some of Howard's popcorn.]
Howard (doing an impression of Charlton Heston): Take your stinking paws off my popcorn, you damned dirty ape.


Soft kitty...

Sheldon: Can you sing “Soft Kitty”.
Penny: What?
Sheldon: My mom used to sing it to me when I was sick.
Penny: I’m sorry, honey, I don’t know it.
Sheldon: I’ll teach you. “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr.” Now you.
Penny: (after a loud sigh) Soft kitty, warm kitty…
Sheldon: Little ball of fur. Keep rubbing.
Penny: (through gritted teeth) Little ball of fur.